Diastsis Recti in Pregnancy and Postpartum

Pregnancy can be a wonderful time for women; however, many don’t realize that it can also bring about some potentially serious health conditions. One of the more common issues that expecting mothers face is diastasis recti, a condition in which the abdomen muscles separate. Fortunately, diastasis recti can be managed through exercises that are tailored to pregnant women. In this blog post, we’ll discuss the basics of diastasis recti, the importance of exercise during pregnancy, and some easy exercises that can help pregnant women manage this condition. By doing these exercises, expecting mothers can have a healthier pregnancy and avoid the potential complications that come with diastasis recti.

How to Check Yourself for Diastasis Recti

  • Lie down on your back on the floor with your knees bent and your feet flat.
  • With your head raised off the floor, enough to create tension in the core, look down at your stomach.
  • With one hand, move your fingers above and below your belly button to see if you can feel any gaps in your muscles. Feel for both depth and distance.
  • If you feel a separation of two finger widths (finger placement is horizontal), you likely have a mild case of diastasis recti. Separation of three to four finger widths indicate a moderate case, while four or more finger widths point to a severe case.
  • Talk to your doctor or a physical therapist to get a definitive measurement/diagnosis, particularly if signs point to having a moderate to severe case.
  • The signs and symptoms of this condition can differ between women. The “bread loaf” or doming of your abdominal muscles as you roll to sit up is the most noticeable symptom. Although it’s common to have a postpartum pooch around your abdominal muscles, diastasis recti isn’t always present. It could indicate a weak transverse abdominis or weak core. The feeling of “flabby abs” is also common.

    Other symptoms of diastasis recti include:

  • Lower back pain
  • Pelvic floor dysfunction
  • Incontinence
  • Pelvic pain
  • Poor posture
  • Umbilical hernia
  • Inability to activate core muscles
  • Lisa, a mother of three, can be seen in this video with a diastasis that was once four fingers wide but is now only two fingers wide. Case Study from the Prenatal Program

    Your rectus abdominis muscles, also known as “six pack muscles,” are two parallel bands that run along your abdomen. The linea alba, a sliver of connective tissue in the middle that connects these muscle bands, is what holds them together. The transverse abdominis and the obliques (on the sides) are located underneath. The transverse abodminis is a horizontal muscle that resembles a corset. Exercises for the transverse abdominis help approximate the rectus abdominis, which helps to close the gap, because these muscle fibers run horizontally.

    Treating diastasis recti is similar for pregnancy, postpartum, and beyond. Moms Into Fitness has developed extensive programs to assist you in strengthening your core and focusing on your transverse abdominis.

    Women most frequently seek treatment for diastasis recti after giving birth. Our diastasis recti advice is applicable regardless of when you had your baby (or babies), and it can give you strength and help you flatten your stomach. Download our detailed Ab Rehab Guide to get started learning everything there is to know about your abdominal separation and how to treat it.

    With our 4-phase Diastasis Recti Program, you can train your core from the inside out by strengthening the transverse abdominis when you’re ready to ease back into safe, functional fitness.

    Overall, the study shows that women who exercise tend to have better abdominal separations than women who don’t exercise. Although some cases are so severe that surgery is necessary, you can typically heal your muscle separation by performing certain exercises.

    The Diastasis Recti Program by Moms Into Fitness includes four phases and 25 progressive core exercises. For those with diastasis recti, every exercise, including flexibility, cardio, and strength training, has been modified. Your muscles will treat you well if you stretch them and tone them.

    Our Diastasis Recti Program includes instruction on the following:

    Traditional core moves like planks and crunches must wait. Instead, you should perform diastasis-safe core exercises to strengthen your deep abdominal muscles. These include:

  • Diaphragmatic breathing
  • Side-lying bracing
  • Bent knee fallouts
  • Modified cat
  • Transverse marching
  • Hip hikes
  • Rolling bridge
  • Clam shell
  • Avoid putting more strain on your abdominal muscles during exercise, at least until you develop core stability. Until then avoid the following motions:

  • Twisting your trunk
  • Traditional core exercises (such as crunches and some plank exercises)
  • Heavy lifting
  • Non-modified push-ups
  • Utilizing your diaphragm to breathe allows you to utilize all of your lungs’ capacity. Place your fingertips inside your hip bones as you lay on your back on a flat surface with your knees bent. Slowly inhale through your nose into your diaphragm without raising your chest or arching your back. Tighten your stomach muscles and make a “shhhh” sound as you exhale through your mouth. Your fingertips will be able to feel the transverse abdominis tightening.

    It’s not just about your abs. To build a functional core, you must learn how to contract and release your pelvic floor muscles.

    Many lower body exercises place additional strain on the abdominal muscles or introduce twisting, torqueing, or hip hinging too soon. You can create strong, toned legs by bending at the hips and twisting, but only after you’ve developed good core stability. Exercises for the lower body and core stability are combined in our diastasis recti workout regimens.

    Although diastasis recti affects a core muscle, your entire body is interconnected. Weakness or tightness in one area can effect others. As part of our Diastasis Recti Program, you can strengthen your arms without putting additional strain on your abdominal muscles.

    We spend 12 hours a day standing; it’s important to avoid overextending your abdominal wall during this time. Place your hip over your ankle bones while keeping your feet parallel. Avoid letting your ribs flare out as you stack your ribcage over your pelvis. Breathe normally.

  • Lengthen your spine
  • Relax your shoulders
  • Slightly engage your core so your ribs don’t flare
  • Stack your rib cage over your pelvis
  • Stack your pelvis over your knees
  • Soft knees
  • Recognize any head tilt
  • Your core/trunk serves as a hub for all of your body’s activities. Running significantly increases the force going through the pelvic floor, core, and legs. If you have diastasis recti, your structural integrity is compromised.

    Running with diastasis recti almost certainly requires compensating, which can result in knee pain, IT band pain, plantar fasciitis, low back pain, and hip flexor problems, to name a few—not to mention increased pelvic floor strain. To ensure that you can run with proper alignment, you must address your compensations. It’s best to seek the help of a physical therapist.

    Please also avoid sprinting. Sprinting causes your trunk muscles to work harder and rotate more, which puts a lot of strain on the linea alba and nearby muscles and fascia. Please get in touch with a women’s health physical therapist if you are consistently performing the exercises from the Diastasis Recti Program and still not experiencing a noticeable improvement.

    Diastasis Recti Exercises During Pregnancy

    Moms Into Fitness provides the best online recipes, workout plans, and nutritional advice. Get moving with 600 scientifically supported workouts in a variety of styles for all fitness levels. You will discover a program that feels just right, whether you are starting to exercise again after giving birth or have been an athlete your entire life. You can easily access at-home workouts from your computer or preferred streaming device. Try it for FREE.

    Lindsay Brin, a mother of three and certified personal trainer with a BSE in exercise science, founded Moms Into Fitness. She is passionate about encouraging moms to love themselves from the inside out, one day at a time, and achieve optimal health without going to extremes.

    We highly encourage exercise and stretching during your pregnancy. However, it is important that you are careful with how you approach various exercise routines while pregnant. Exercises like: crunches, sit-ups, pushups, press-ups, and front planks, can make abdominal separation worse. Talk to a specialist or consider looking at My program for women: One Strong Mama.

    Be mindful of your core and adopt proper posture when lifting heavy objects. Avoid any exercises or activities that could put undue strain on your core. This could apply to how you walk or sit, how you go potty, or whether you do any normally safe exercises. Especially when getting out of bed. When getting out of a lying down position, try to roll onto your side to relieve pressure on your linea alba.

    But there are lots of ways to help reduce your chance of getting a diastasis recti during or after pregnancy. You are pregnant, so you can’t change the pressure in your abdomen, but there are some other things you can change. The risk of a diastasis is reduced and postpartum rehab is aided by following a routine that emphasizes good posture, functional movement in daily activity, strengthening your transverse abdominis (lower abs), and avoiding movements and exercises that could aggravate it.

    There are many sites and programs that offer many helpful tips and tricks for you as you walk through your pregnancy. On our homepage we offer many varying programs, like One Strong Mama, and exercises tips for you to consider during your pregnancy and postpartum. Below is a taste of what those programs have to offer.

    Once you are cleared for exercise by your medical professional, you want to focus on core building exercises which properly strengthen your core without aiding in diastasis recti development. My program Restore Your Core is designed for any woman with core issues such as: postpartum issues, diastasis recti, incontinence, and constant back pain.

    [vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text css=”. Can you repair diastasis recti during pregnancy? is a question I’m frequently asked, so now is the time to address it. While I’d love to say “yes,” actually repairing diastasis recti during pregnancy is not something to strive for. Watch my video below for the complete discussion and see my 11 tips below that will help you minimize abdominal separation and prepare your body to be strong, improve posture, reduce aches and pains, and more!


    Can you do diastasis recti exercises while pregnant?

    All of our pregnancy workouts are safe for diastasis recti and will set you up for an easier postpartum recovery. Download our Prenatal & Postnatal Exercise Guide for research-backed guidance and get moving with our Pregnancy Programs.

    What helps diastasis recti pain during pregnancy?

    Physical Therapy as Diastasis Recti Treatment
    1. Postural Training – Improving postural control is one of the most important components of treatment for women who are dealing with diastasis recti pain. …
    2. Stretching – When certain muscles become weak and overstretched, other muscles may become overactive and tight.

    Can you improve AB separation during pregnancy?

    It occurs when the rectus abdominis muscles (six-pack ab muscles) separate during pregnancy from being stretched. The separation can make a person’s belly stick out or bulge months or years postpartum. It can be repaired with special exercises that help to close the separation.

    What exercises should you avoid if you have diastasis recti?

    Make sure to avoid certain activities and exercises that may make diastasis recti worse. These include crunches, ab twists, planks, backward bends that stretch the abdominal area, certain yoga poses, or any type of heavy lifting activities that bulge out the stomach.

    6 Mistakes Causing Diastasis Recti During Pregnancy! (HOW TO PREVENT DIASTASIS RECTI)

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